158. Louise At Home

Louise frowned.
Stared at her
Reflection: hair’s too
Long. Cheeks,
Colorless.

She dropped to
The bed, pulled knees up
Close. I
Need a cut, or
Perm. Here, tie it
Tight with twine.

Mirror in her
Hand showed that same
Warily expectant, sour
Face–same
As her mother’s
Had been, all those
Years. Louise
Thought: but Mama worried!
Whereas me, I
Figure: what’s the use.

Back then she had
Read from Mama’s face,
Every evening,
Whether there’d be food–
Whether Pa’d come
After her, Louise, breathing
Gin–or if
They must move.

She gazed out.
Wellsir. No more
Moving. I am
Stayed put now–and
How. “Shoo!”
Swarm of flies,
Drawn in by stale
Sheets, buzzed by her
Shoulders. “Bo,
Think I’ll try to
Burn this catalogue, smoke these
Flies away. You care?”
Eating, Bo said
Nothing, his back
Toward her. “Bo,
Them eggs cooked
Okay?”
Nothing.
Save your breath.

Louise rubbed her
Leg. She scanned it
With what, years back,
Would have been
Regret.
Yesterday Bo’d
Grabbed her thigh so
Hard–was mad–
Clamped and crushed it–
Vessels popped
The skin. Now
Finger-shapes of
Purple wrapped her leg.
On me, she thought,
Like the Hand of
God. Bo and
All his kind.
They’re like Gods–could
Hurt you just as
Bad, while they stayed
Safe:
Can’t get knocked up,
Slapped around. No
Cramps, no babies,
Beatings.
And no matter
What men did, they
Ruled.
Undertaker
In town was
The mayor: had
The only suit.

Bo shoved back his
Chair, and rose to
Go. Grabbed his
Hat. He slammed out,
Belching in
The yard. She thought:
Liked the eggs.

Her eyes strayed. They
Traveled round the room,
At last pausing,
Fixing on
The clock.
It’s so early.
Day is a long
Time. Rich women
Had a phone. Who knew
Which was worse:
Him there in
The house? Or
Her alone.

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